Veteran leadership key for men's basketball

The Geneseo men's basketball team is taking a new approach to the game this year in the hopes of improving their chances of winning the SUNYAC Tournament. Although the Knights went 16-10—12-6 in conference play—and also secured the second seed in the SUNYAC Tournament last year, they fell to ensuing champion SUNY Oswego in the semifinals.

"I think that we can contend again, but we're just going to be very different," head coach Steve Minton said. "We're going to be a little smaller and we're going to play a little differently, but I still really like the talent pool."

The biggest loss will be forward Gordon Lyons ‘15, who averaged a team-high 20.6 points per game and also led Division III in rebounding with 12.6 rebounds per game as a senior. Five of the team's six leading scorers from last season graduated, leaving a big hole for the newcomers to fill.

One key returning player is sophomore guard Kevin Crockett, who started 11 games last season and averaged 10.1 points per game and shot 48.9 percent from the field and 46.6 percent from three-point range. Along with Crockett, Minton noted transfer junior guards Justin Ringen and John Decker as players ready to step up this season. Both Ringen and Decker played Division II basketball at Dominican College.

A successful season for the Knights will also heavily rely on internal development. With Lyons gone, 6-foot-7 senior forward Nick Fessenden will see a lot more playing time.

"We're really hoping that [Fessenden], who is a senior this year, can come around and do some things for us," Minton said. "I think he's capable of being one of the top rebounders in the league."

Fessenden is one of four players on the roster 6-foot-6 or taller, although two of these four players are freshmen who are not guaranteed immediate playing time. As a result, rebounding remains a considerable concern.

"When you graduate that size and the new players aren't really that big, the rebounding is going to be a point of concern," Minton said.

In addition to losing height, a couple of new rule changes may impact the Knights' style of play. First, the NCAA brought the shot clock down from 35 seconds to 30 seconds, which will increase the pace of the game. Additionally, the NCAA has created a firm 10-second count to advance the ball to the frontcourt. That means that if a team calls a timeout after eight seconds without having advanced the ball past half court, they have only two seconds to get the ball across after inbounding. It used to be that after timeouts or deflections, the count would reset to 10, but this is no longer the case.

"Because of those rule changes, you're going to see more teams pressing and more teams playing a little faster," Minton said. "I think we've begun to make a commitment to that. Because our strength this year is with our guard play, you may see more three-pointers than in the past."

The Knights will open their season on Nov. 14 at Medaille College.